Okay, so I admit I am FAR from being an expert homeschooler... I am so very new at this teaching-at-home thing. I will even admit there are days that I wake up and feel like, "I don't really feel like doing ANYTHING today including parenting." But I love being at home with the kids and I have realized that I NEED structure to my day. Letting the kids just play and do whatever drives me crazy. And to be honest, I enjoy teaching... it gives me not only the opportunity to challenge my kids to love to learn, but it allows me to spend time with them in a meaningful way.
Anyway, I started homeschooling at the preschool level simply because I needed to feel like I was doing something constructive with my day... something that was intentional (other than following my kids around picking things up after them). I actually have come to really enjoy it... despite those days I wake up and would prefer to lay in bed all day... but who gets to do that with kids anyway, right?
One of my favorite websites wrote an article Why I Homeschool. Although I'm just embarking on this journey, perhaps in the future things may change, but for now, this article seems to speak my mind and heart in regards to homeschooling my kids. So if you are interested in homeschooling and/or just thinking about it, feel free to read it (I've listed a few other articles I like about homeschooling below also so again, if you are just thinking about it, take a few minutes to read them.)
If you are one who doesn't know if you want to go that route but wants to tinker around with it (like I did) to see if it fits your style, your passions, your family, etc, just start simple. I started by going through the alphabet, a letter a week. Every day I found a craft, a book, something educational to teach or do around that letter. Sometimes it took 10 minutes. Sometimes it kept the kids busy for hours. Sometime my ideas crashed and burned... and sometimes I was pretty proud of my creativity. (Here is a great article titled Where Should I Start?)
Another way you can begin is by picking one book everyday and doing a craft, project or something educational that goes with the book. It could be anything from cutting pictures out, coloring pictures, making a toilet paper tube animal, matching colors, counting footsteps on a walk, building a fort and blowing it down like the Three Little Pigs, etc.
We also have 'story time' everyday. I love to read to my kids. I want them to love (or at least appreciate) reading. I will share that it was no easy task to get my three year old and two year old, at the time, to sit and listen to a few stories when it wasn't bed time (any kid wants to listen intently to a story if the alterative is going to bed, right?). But over time, they have learned what to do when it's 'story time'... and yes, sometimes I combine 'story time' and 'snack time' so they pay attention just a bit more.
I utilize YouTube to show lots of videos... of animals, of musical intruments, and so on. We've watched firemen putting out fires, we've watched cows being milked, we've watched a man playing the flute... they love it. It's no substitute for going to a concert or heading to a farm, but living in Mexico, we've had to be a little more creative.
Okay, so keep in mind, I have preschoolers right now. Like I said, I'm just embarking on this journey. The websites I've posted under "Favorite Websites" have some great ideas, starting pointers, and so on for those who have older kids and want to start homeschooling. I'm hoping that when my kids are older (and if I'm still homeschooling), I can be source of encouragement as these websites have been for me.
I have really discovered I love spending time with my kids and investing in their future this way. We get alot of time together (this can be good and bad) and we get to learn together... literally. Even doing preschool together, I've learned lots of things. We really get to play together and like the Pioneer Woman shares (see below), it has given us ALOT of family time together, which in my opinion is one of the biggest things failing in families now-a-days.
Since I began homeschooling we have moved back the U.S. We have sifted through whether to continue the journey of homeschooling. From what I hear, this is pretty normal for most homeschool families. It has a great deal of blessings, but it isn't always easy. Sometimes I think about that break public/private school parents get from their kids during the day and I dream of how wonderful that must be to not be around the kids 24/7... as much as I love them. But I'm also well aware of that little disease called 'The Grass Is Greener" and there are plenty of parents who send their kids to public schools who say quite the opposite. So, I've done my praying. I've done my thinking. I've done my research. I've picked the brains of other homeschool families and well, this is the road we are on right now.
Below are some articles that I found encouraging as to why other families homeschool. And perhaps these articles will encourage you also and help you make the best decision for your family whether it be homeschooling, public or private education. I've also included some curriculum articles and websites that may help you sift through the zillion of options out there if you do decide to embark on the homschool journey!
"Why I Homeschool"
This little post of why Ree homeschools will make you laugh outloud.
"The Rise and Fall of a Homeschool Mother - My Story"
Sue is a mom who started homeschooling with certain expectations of what that should look like, how she should be and so on... and realized she felt like a failure. She has some really great words of encouragement in her story for those who are embarking on the homeschool journey. She also wrote a post titled Newbies and Wannabies that have some resources and practical advice for starting out.
"Why Homeschool?" She says "When we're asked about Homeschooling, I rarely know how to respond in the 'nutshell' people are looking for. It seems searching for the perfect soundbite to appease the begging question "why?" is just too difficult. The reasons "why" are far too many and too complex to sum up in a 2 minute response."
Sonlight provides complete Christian Homeschool Curriculum. With literature-rich, Christ-centered programs, your family is guaranteed to love learning together. A friend recommended trying them out and we started with the pre-preschool set of books... and fell in love with them. I would encourage you to check out their materials and books. We've loved them so far!
Five in a Row is more than just a set of lesson plans. It’s an approach
to learning that will forever change how both you, and your children
view education, books and teaching. I think their books are fabulous and actually a number of the books cross over with Sonlight.
So this next year will be the first year that I use this handwriting curriculum. I love this handwriting curriculum simply because it really is a reason for handwriting... Every weekly lesson in is built around one carefully-selected Scripture verse. Verses are chosen not only for proper letter combinations, but also inspirational content. And when children spend the week working on a specific verse, that Scripture becomes locked in their memories for a lifetime!
This is a curriculum for Science that we are considering for next year. My boys LOVE the Magic School bus shows and books and the science looks really fun and educational. They have won a number of awards.
We are doing this for the next year. This is a comprehensive K-12 math curriculum that uses manipulatives to illustrate and teach math concepts. We're pretty excited about trying it this year. I had ordered the free explanatory DVD and really loved their thought process.